February 2015 BSDC NewsletterBy

By Mary Thomas


Black Swamp Driving Club Welcomes Cannonmaster

Black Swamp Driving Club president Roger Higgins, Jr. opened the Jan 11 meeting in Arlington, OH, by introducing the 2015 officers and board members.  Serving with President Higgins will be Vice President Mary Elliot, Secretary Sue Baker, Treasurer Roger Murray, and board members John Heffernan, Julie Emmons, and Mary Thomas.

Roger Murray introduced members and guests to Bob Gillmor, owner and operator of Gillmor Ordnance, Ltd., Old Fort, OH.  Gillmor began his unusual business after doing Civil War re-enacting as an infantryman.  Learning that he wouldn’t have to march if he became involved with artillery, he began searching for, then finding his first cannon in a Fremont, OH, graveyard.  Once repaired and mounted on an artillery carriage, Gillmor was ready to open fire. 

Since it wasn’t easy to find cannon to buy, Gillmor opened a foundry to cast his own  cannon.  He works in brass and bronze, making not only ordnance, but 1/6 and 1/8 size cannon that fire, commemorative coins, and bells as well.  Check his website www.cannonmaster.com for more information about the foundry products.  One cannon led to another, resulting in Gillmor’s quest to find a way to build a six-horse limber—a special stripped down carriage that enables a cannon to be hauled around a battlefield at full speed.

Gillmor needed to find and train horses that could pull his limber and quietly accept the noise of the cannon in use.  He discovered that off the track Standardbreds were easiest to train for ordnance work.  Gillmor and his six-horse limber galloped through several Civil War documentary films, including one done for Gettysburg.  Gillmor’s cannons and his love for blowing things up soon attracted the attention of major movie studios. 
Gillmor has provided horses, cannons, and equipment for several films, including Gods and Generals and The Last Samurai, starring Tom Cruise.  Gillmor’s horses soon learn what “action” means and prove easier to train for scenes than many of the riding/driving extras and principal actors.  Gillmor has several film projects pending, including one in New Orleans.

Gillmor has fired cannons for performances of The 1812 Overture as well as for the annual Pirate Fest on Lake Erie.  Each year he creates exciting, explosive action for the opening ceremonies at the Camp Perry Rifle Matches, Port Clinton, OH.  Gillmor converts ordinary items and pieces of junk into whatever is needed for a scene or event.  He’s Ohio’s realistic answer to Canada’s fictional Red Green.

After a break for the potluck lunch, a short meeting was held.  The treasurer’s report included the 2015 budget.  Mark Newman and Kim Mack are heading up the booth for the Findlay Swap Meet Feb. 15 and need volunteers to help man the booth.  Julie Emmons announced that the McCutchenville drive will be May 16, a trip to the Lafferty Funeral Museum July 18, and the Parker Bridge drive Sept. 20.  Mike Minges asked if people would support another drive at River Bend Park, and the Murrays will announce the date for the Coonhunters drive after coordinating dates with the Western Reserve Carriage Association.   The next meeting will be Feb. 8 at the Good Hope Lutheran Church, Arlington, OH.